John Shear is a physically and mentally fit 92-year-old, still able to do push-ups as well as work as a guard at a California racetrack, where he’s been employed for 51 years. He’s also a hero who put his life in peril to save an 8-year-old girl from being trampled by a horse.

Two years ago, Shear was on shift as a guard at the Santa Anita Park racetrack when someone shouted that a racehorse had gotten loose. Shear told everyone to clear out of the way, but when he “looked down, there was a little girl standing there,” he told ABC News. Shear shielded Roxy Key, who was 5 years old at the time, from the horse as it trampled over them, the 90-year-old taking most of the horse’s weight. Though he was rushed to the hospital with severe injuries including a fractured pelvis, the little girl was unharmed.

“I knew I was going to get hit,” Shear later said. “I thought there was a possibility I was going to die but you cannot stop and think should I or shouldn’t I. There is a five-year-old girl. I’m 90-years-old. I have had a life. She hasn’t had a life. You got to save that life.”

Michael Key, Roxy’s father, saw the incident and said he was in shock. “[Roxy] got up and I was shaking,” he told ABC News. “And she’s like, ‘I’m fine, papa, I’m fine,’ and then she looked over and saw Mr. Shear on the ground and there was blood hemorrhaging and she lost it, she just lost it.” Key said his daughter would have been killed had Shear not saved her life.

Shear spent seven weeks recovering in the hospital, but recover he did. Shear’s son said in a statement that his father’s doctors were “amazed at the progress” he made during his recovery. “He was badly injured and he was in very, very bad shape the first few days following the incident. He lost quit ea bit of blood internally and his blood pressure got very low. My dad has always prided himself on eating well and staying physically fit and there’s no doubt this has helped him immensely.”

Two years after the incident, the now 92-year-old Shear hoped to meet Roxy Key in person. “I have always wanted to meet her and I was so sad that I never got the chance to meet her when I got better,” he told ABC News. He drove to one of her ballet recitals to meet the girl and her parents.

“By any accounting, John Shear is a hero,” Santa Anita President George Haines said shortly after Shear’s recovery. “He is an amazing human being … He loves this business and as he’s said many times, he loves being around it, the horses, the people and show that we all work so hard to put on.”

In a video by ABC News, Shear said his act of saving the girl’s life ranked number 1 in the most important things he has done in his 92 years of life. “When her mother came over and hugged me and said you’re my daughter’s guardian angel, I felt wonderful,” he said. “There was just something emotional about that.”